Thursday, 11/18/21 – Right, Wrong, and the Word in His Many Forms

Right, Wrong, and the Word in His Many Forms

Why should I not come to your home, force my way into it, ransack and loot, maim or even slay any who oppose my actions? — “Well! Because it’s wrong!” you may gasp.

“What makes you think this behaviour is ‘wrong’?” I would counter. Conscienceless murderers have no sense of ‘wrongness.’ Nor do wolves, lions, stalkers and thieves. Nor do infants, the simple-minded, the brain-damaged or many senile. From whence comes human conscience anyway? What of the over-scrupulous? What defines their excess or lack? What and where is the fulcrum for balanced thinking?… sanity?… morality? Will a poorly informed mind spawn a misinformed conscience? – and what information might ‘rightly’ inform it?

Many centuries past the psalmist posed “If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3, NASB). What foundations? Are there truly foundations?

If there are no foundations then my opening behaviour cannot be called ‘wrong.’ But “No,” you say, for in your soul you know it to be wrong, “Then wrong is what most people agree,” you say. But yet there are great flaws. On looting and murder one might find good consensus, but what of smaller matters? Fine lines… over- vs under- conscientiousness?

Jesus declared with authority the need of solid foundation (Matt. 7:24-29). Paul underscored that Foundation’s Identity: “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 3:11).

Jesus Christ: the Word Who became flesh (John 1:14)… the Word that created all things (Col. 1:16)… the Word imprinted on papyrus (2 Pet. 1:21) and imbedded on hearts (Jer. 31:33).

This Word, now in all everyday practicality, every believer must digest daily… in reading… meditating… praying… and obeying.

There is Foundation, and that Foundation is Christ. Conscience — informed by its body of Truth, it’s assimilation into mind, its activation of heart, and its practice by behaviour – is conscience informed by the Spirit of God and is Truth. He teaches us Right, Wrong, and the Way to Eternal Life.

Press on…

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of life in Christ? Or, would you like to begin this journey by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Wednesday, 11/17/21 – Pressing on… Big Head, Small Body…

Big Head, Small Body…

This past Sunday our brother James Harrison spoke on “How to be the Perfect Church Member.” He shared with us Four characteristics of maturing church members:

  1. Put up with one another. (Eph. 4:13)
  2. Put leadership in its place. (Eph. 4:11,12)
  3. Put your personal grace to work. (Eph. 4:7,12,14)
  4. Put on Truth – up close and personal. (Eph. 4:15,16)

I loved the analogy given of how a newborn’s head seems disproportionate to its body. Their head is quite large in comparison to their body, but with time and nourishment the body grows to become balanced with it. “Humans grow into their heads,” said our speaker.

What a wonderful God Who builds into our physical experiences such spiritual lessons to guide us. In Ephesians 4 Paul expresses his great desire that the believers “may grow up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ”.

It is interesting to note the run-up to this statement. To what is Paul directing his readers that ends in this climactic statement of God’s desire that we all “may grow up into Him”?

Paul is talking about the structure of Christ’s church. Back in vs 11 he states that Christ gave… He gifted… or called… or provided… persons to serve a variety of functions: “the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers.” What were they to do? They were “to equip His people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (v.12). They were to help believers to grown in their faith, to use their giftedness and serve others too. And these offices, or functions, or callings were to manage His Church until His return… “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ..” (v. 13). They were to help the Body of Christ to grow up into its Head… “to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the Head, that is, Christ” (v. 15).

“Humans grow into their heads,” James told us. Who is your Head? Is it Christ, or has your ego swollen your own head? Are you growing up into Christ? Are you being built up to become more in proportion to Him?

Press on…

To hear this past Sunday’s message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Friday, 11/12/21 – Question: How can I beat temptation?

How can I beat temptation?

We’ve all seen it… the story line of many movies, novels, sagas and serials. Against impossible odds the hero faces battle with the foe… fierce conflict ensues and the hero is almost defeated, but then, with gasping breath he realizes he has carried with him all the while a power to defeat the foe completely! Renewed excitement and sure hope flush through his veins as he wields the talisman, musters the untapped power within, or calls upon a magical or divine source from without. Instantly (or eventually) the foe is utterly (or temporarily) destroyed (or vanquished), and the hero rises triumphant and transformed.

The world, the flesh, and the devil are the foes of every faithful follower of Christ. The first two have fallen to the power of the third and are thus instructed by his tactics. Primary of these tactics is his seductive lying, and primary of these lies are these: “This temptation will last forever.” “You have no power to defeat it.” Or “You may defeat it by longer or harder self-effort, by trying another plan or strategy, or by succumbing to it by a measured and self-controlled degree.”

But these are all lies, part lies, or truth twisted to become lies. He is trying to distract you from that inner power which can truly defeat him: the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Word of God hid in your heart, and the help available from the family of God.

You cannot in your flesh defeat the devil because your flesh nature wants to sin. But within every believer resides another nature, the Holy Spirit of God, and “the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4). The promise of God’s Word is this: “Resist the devil… and He will flee…from you” – he will run away in terror of you! As the Word says, “the demons believe… and they tremble in terror.” (James 2:19, NLT).

Hide deep in your heart these truths:

Do not love the world or anything in the world.” (1 John 2:15).
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Gal. 5:16).
Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom. 7:25).
Put on the full armor of God…” (Eph. 6:11).
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and He will flee from you…” (James 4:7).
Carry each other’s burdens..” (Gal. 6:2).

Mind & heart focussed upon God, strengthened by the indwelling Holy Spirit, claiming the promises of the Word of God, clothed in the assuring, defending and engaging Armor of God, and supported by the prayers and encouragement of the family of God. These are your spiritual weapons, with you at all times, and striking true terror against your lying foe.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? …in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom. 7:31, 37).

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Thursday, 11/11/21 – Priorities: of Socrates and of Saviour

Priorities: of Socrates and of Saviour

The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates (470 BC–399 BC) is credited with the comment, “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” Enduring wisdom to which many present day scholars and philosophers agree. Even actor Dwayne Johnson, double negatives aside, notes, “The one thing that I keep learning over and over again is that I don’t know nothing. I mean, that’s my life lesson.”

To both Socrates and Johnson the “one thing” that was primary was this intellectual humility. Others hold other “one things” in top spot as the following quotations demonstrate.

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision…” – Neil Gaiman
“…the one thing people can’t take away from you is your education.” – Michelle Obama
“To me, if life boils down to one thing, it’s movement. To live is to keep moving.” – Jerry Seinfeld
“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.” – Albert Schweitzer
“Outstanding people have one thing in common: An absolute sense of mission.” – Zig Ziglar
One thing is clear to me: We, as human beings, must be willing to accept people who are different from ourselves.” – Barbara Jordan
Truth-telling, I have found, is the key to responsible citizenship. The thousands of criminals I have seen in 40 years of law enforcement have had one thing in common: Every single one was a liar.” – J. Edgar Hoover
“I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.” – Walt Disney
I’ll tell you one thing, it’s a cruel, cruel world.” – Danny DeVito
“I think one thing I’ve learned over the years is just that you’re not going to ever please everyone, and the most important person to please is yourself.” – Jeremy Scott
“Sometimes I think that the one thing I love most about being an adult is the right to buy candy whenever and wherever I want.” – Ryan Gosling

Well OK, some of these may have been spoken with tongue in cheek, but they do reveal something about the individual. Jesus also recommended “one thing” as primary above all others. He demonstrated it in His lifestyle, habits, and ministry, and it reveals very much about His character and the kind of people He longs for each of us to become.

He shared this priority with Martha: “There is only one thing worth being concerned about.” He told her, adding “Mary has discovered it” (Luke 10:42, NLT). What was it? It was what Mary was doing… what she had set as her Number One focus: “Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught” (v. 39).

Elsewhere in scripture Jesus urged “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38). Even prior to this He commanded “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33).

Socrates was condemned to death for his method of questioning. Jesus became “the Lamb who was slaughtered before the world was made.” (Rev. 13:8) so that we could once again know Him as we ought. The Apostle Paul made “to know Him” his one great quest (see Phil. 3:13), and so may you.

Press on…

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of life in Christ? Or, would you like to begin this journey by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 11/4/21 – Today’s Discipleship Post: Freedom!

Freedom!

I remember as a child growing up in a Christian home, struggling with my Bible memory verses and puzzling over Psalm 23 verse 1. The only translation I knew back then was the King James version and the way it read was “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

In my young mind I reasoned: Okay, the Lord… that’s God. He made me and everything, and He is my “shepherd.” That’s good too, isn’t it? I mean He guides me and looks after me and stuff like a man looking after his sheep. But “I shall not want”–? Why wouldn’t I want Him?

As I looked at the possibilities from all angles I eventually came to the conclusion that the verse must mean that because the Lord is my shepherd I probably shouldn’t want anything else. I mean, I should just be satisfied with Him… right? I quietly scolded David for not completing his sentences. He should have written “I shall not want anything else!

Then one day I came across the passage in a more recent translation. It rendered the verse “The Lord is my shepherd I shall not lack any good thing.” Aha! The dusty old light in the back corner of my attic brain clicked ‘on’! “Want” meant lack, to fall short of having enough of something. Because the Lord is my shepherd and looks after me He will see that I will always have enough of what I really need!

Almost immediately another Old Testament passage also clicked clear — the one about King Belshazzar* reading the handwriting on the wall of his Palace informing him he had been weighed in God’s balances and found “wanting.” I got it! It meant his life had fallen short… his kingship had not pleased the Lord, and now God was about to take it from him. (In fact, Belshazzar was killed that very evening.)

But no such worries for me! “The Lord is my Shepherd!” He will see that I always have all that I need. Sometimes He gives His Sheep green pastures, quiet waters, and refreshed souls. Other times He gives guidance in which path to take, or courage when we must walk through dark valleys.

What Freedom indeed it is to have the Lord as one’s Shepherd!

Is He yours?

Press on…

* Daniel 5:27

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of life in Christ? Or, would you like to begin this journey by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 10/28/21 – Assurance: the day after

Assurance: the day after

The day after you decide to do as we discussed yesterday, the day on which you call on Christ Who has been calling on you, the day on which you see you are not holy, not worthy, less than not worthy of standing in His Presence, the day you realize you are indeed worthy of His wrath, eternal removal from His Presence and that there is nothing, nothing, nothing that you can now do to rectify this apart from His amazing rescue… His willful stepping up in your place to take that wrath for you, on the day after that day you will immediately awake to doubts.

You see, not only have you gained that “pearl of great price” (Matt. 13:45), received that “deposit” (Eph. 1:14) of the Spirit and become heir to that “inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade…. kept in heaven for you (1 Pet. 1:4), but you also gained, for a time, an enemy. “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Pet. 5:8).

But within you now resides the far greater power of the recently indwelling Spirit of God – “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4). You must learn to do battle with him lest he pollute your mind with his lies: “for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44). “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7).

As soon as new seed (the gospel) is planted, the devil seeks to snatch it away. Jesus once told a parable to illustrate this (see Matthew 13:1-23). But we can defeat him by speaking Truth to his lies. The Truth of your acceptance by God by the sacrifice of Christ, the Truth of your salvation by reliance upon Christ:

If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. … ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” (Rom. 10:9-10, 13).

Jesus too was tempted, tempted right at the beginning like you. He too spoke Truth to the devil’s lies and the devil had to flee. (Read about it in Matt. 4:1-11).

Bury the Truth in your heart and mind. Read the gospel of John and the 1st Epistle of John. Jesus said also this: “…you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.” (John 8:32), and “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6). Finally, Christ Himself gives us these fine words of assurance…

I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24).

Press on…

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of life in Christ? Or, would you like to begin this journey by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Wednesday, 10/27/21 – Pressing on… There is a Consequence to Know Christ

There is a Consequence to Know Christ

This past Sunday our brother James Harrison asked us “Is Jesus an idea you believe in, or a person you know and trust?”

Superman may stand for many ideals to which you aspire. Superman may even inspire you to become a better person. You might “use” Superman as a psychological aid, but deep down you know you do not “know” Superman. Superman really does not exist.

Or, perhaps your mentor is real… a great sports figure, a world leader, movie star or vocalist. Chances are though that you don’t really “know” these people. You wouldn’t call them up for a chat or invite them to dinner.

Other very real people you may know as your acquaintances. You wave to them on your way to work, or see them at the gym. But even these you don’t really “know.” You haven’t yet determined if you might trust them… trust them with your valuables … your secrets… your children.

But how is it with Christ? Have you spent long hours with Him? Have you gone through great trials with Him? Have you come to “know” Him as He knows you? Do you trust Him? Have you committed to Him your deep secrets, your heart, your sins and your future? Do you trust Him with your life?

To know Christ in this way, explained James, will cost you something… it will cost you everything! But the outcome of this commitment is infinitely greater than its sacrifices: wholeness, contentment, purpose, peace, eternal life and holiness. These consequences are joyous!

But there is also a very dark consequence to shunning this Christ. He calls you now to decide. He says, “Look, today I have set before you life and death” (Deut. 30:15, TLB). “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6:2). Ignoring the call will not do. You will either choose Christ or you will not.

There is a Call to Know Christ. There is a Cost to Know Christ. There is a Consequence to Know Christ. Is Christ an idea you believe in, or a person you know and trust?” Do you want to know Christ?

Press on…

Do you want help to know Christ? Use the Contact page. We’ll help point you to Him.

To hear this past Sunday’s message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Tuesday, 10/26/21 – Pressing on… There is a Cost to Know Christ

There is a Cost to Know Christ

It may cost you TIME

If you want to know Christ it may cost you some Facebook time. It may cost you some T.V. time. It may cost you some recreational time. It may cost you some sleep time, and it may even cost you all the hours of all your days, your lifetime.

It may cost you MONEY

If you want to know Christ it may cost some “mad” money – that superfluous money you had designated for squandering and “self”-indulgence. It may cost you some investment money – money you planned to set aside in silo two, rainy day or retirement money. It may cost you dining out money, coffee money, or grocery money. It may cost you rent or mortgage money. In fact, it may cost you all the money you have as you help the poverty stricken buy some bread, or support a missionary, a child, or fund a church in a faraway land.

It may cost you ENERGY

If you want to know Christ it may cost you some exercise energy. It may cost you some recreational energy. It may cost you energy for hobbies, or work, or breathing! It may cost all the energy you have as you walk a stranger’s second mile, help your neighbour build his garage, or the disaster stricken rebuild their village.

It may cost you LIFE

In short, if you want to know Christ It may cost you all your life! In fact, it very likely will. In fact, you can be certain of it. “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matt. 16:25). If you want to know Christ you must be willing… willing just as He was willing… willing to die.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.“ (Gal. 2:20). / “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:3).

There is a Cost to know Christ. Sit down and estimate it (Luke 14:28). Choose to surrender it (Matt. 13:44-46). Though this cost be all the above it is a cost “not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed…” (Rom. 8:18).

More tomorrow…

To hear this past Sunday’s message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Thursday, 10/14/21 – Knowing God’s Will

Knowing God’s Will

God expects us to pray that His Will is done and to understand what His Will is. On these two points scripture is explicit: “…your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:10); “…do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” (Eph.5:17).

Understanding the Will of God is not something mystical, or hidden. It begins with relationship – in knowing thoroughly that God is God and you are not! “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Prov. 9:10). God is Supreme. He is not a magical genie to have in one’s back pocket! He is to be obeyed, and not questioned.

Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.” (Eccl. 5:2).

Micah states the broad strokes of a man’s obligations before his Creator: “What does the LORD require of you?” He asks.“To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8).

To train us in the standards of righteousness God gave us the Law. Then, in Christ, He gave us the means of righteousness through confession, repentance, surrender and the workings of His indwelling Holy Spirit. He gives us also His Word in which much of His Will is made clear to us.

But God is not only a God of justice, rules and punishment! God is also a God of great Love… so much so that He paid a great price to restore us…

The Lord is… not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9) “[He] wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4)

But that’s not all! God wants you to work with Him to become like Him. In fact, it is God’s Will for us to become set apart… sanctified… holy! “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified” (1 Thess. 4:3). “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” (1 Pet. 1:14-16). And it is God’s Will that our lives be a testimony to others in this world. “It is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.” (1 Pet. 2:15).

Finally, (for now), it is God’s Will that we love Him and one another, that we put to death all sinful pleasures, unashamedly accepting reproach for His Name, and persevere in following Him. “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23); “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” (Heb. 10:36).

Oh! And in keeping with our theme these past few days it is also God’s Will that we be thankful! “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:18)

Press on…

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of life in Christ? Or, would you like to begin this journey by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 9/23/21 – “Always Pray” and “Not Give Up!”

Always Pray” and “Not Give Up!”

I awoke one morning in recent days with many concerns upon my mind and heart. I had been filling my mind with scripture, speaking His promises to my heart, and praying much for the Lord’s intervention, but as yet the concerns lingered.

Opening my tablet later that morning I was met with an image from a local Christian bookstore: “There is POWER in PRAYER” it shouted out at me! “When you pray, God listens,” it began. Odd how so often it is the most fundamental of truths are the first to be forgotten!

Another day, feeling very much alone under many weighty responsibilities, I decided to go for a walk to think and to pray. Ahead on the paved trail I noticed some chalk marking on the pathway. Once close enough to read it I was awed by its relevance. “You’re NOT ALONE ❤” someone had sketched on the surface. I chuckled, looked up, and whispered “thank you.”

Again, on yet another day, came the third of our good, good Father’s loving reminders. Rainclouds had finally cleared and I decided to take my arthritic frame and beclouded brain out to walk again. This time I chose a graveled, less traveled path.

Before I had taken many steps I spotted a stone. It was gray, hard and firm, and upon it, through it, and on both sides of it was embedded a white and well-formed cross. Christ, the Rock, was upon His Throne.

Yes! “What a Mighty God we Serve.” We sing it, and we must believe it! There is POWER in PRAYER, We are NOT ALONE, and Christ our Rock is upon His Throne!

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. (Luke 18:1).

Press on…

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of life in Christ? Or, would you like to begin this journey by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.